Saturated hospitals, airlifts as California border region virus cases surge
by Laura Gottesdeiner/Reuters
MEXICALI, Mexico/EL CENTRO, Calif., (Reuters) – Coronavirus cases are surging in a scorching hot desert region straddling south California and a city near Mexico’s Tijuana, leading to saturated hospitals, a cross-border overspill of patients and airlifts from rural U.S. clinics.
Mexicali, capital of the Mexican state of Baja California, has the third-highest number of confirmed COVID cases in Mexico, with its main hospitals at four-fifths capacity, state health department data shows.
Only a few miles beyond the border fence, Imperial County, California, is coping with the most COVID hospitalizations per capita in the state – well over twice the rate of the next highest county.
For the past two weeks, Imperial County’s largest hospital has used helicopters to fly some patients to other clinics, including those over 100 miles (160 km) away in San Diego and Palm Springs, because its intensive care unit is full.